Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Personal Asides: “Peace Protesters” at Holy Name Cathedral Jeopardize Their Cause…”Careful, Your Racism is Beginning to Show”


Peace Protesters.

It was a sacrilege of ignorance that produced the invasion of Holy Name cathedral during Easter Sunday Mass when six members of the aptly named “Catholic Schoolgirls Against the War” interrupted Cardinal Francis George’s sermon and tossed vials of phony blood on people. Aptly named because it was indeed a immature insult to civility, more evocative of a bad baby tossing over a bowl of porridge than a legitimate protest.

It was also a sacrilege because as all Catholics should know, the celebrant at the altar is offering Mass in the name of all of Christ’s members, since he represents Christ, the Savior, head of the Church, the Mass offered in the fullness of Christ’s mystical membership which includes all who belong to the Mystical Body. By standing up, raising a ruckus, terrifying children and tossing vials of “blood,” the latter day hippies who carry the name Catholic failed to recognize that the Mass they intruded upon represented the most sublime example of peace. The disreputable ones failed to understand that they were defiling worship of the Prince of Peace whose principles, were they to be applied to the world, would rule out all war as being at variance with the Sermon on the Mount.

The stark inappropriateness of choosing Easter Sunday for the demonstration is so gross as can hardly be contemplated. By His death on the cross, Christ won human salvation, making it possible for those before and since to receive the grace they need to merit heaven. Just as the crucifixion means the end of our estrangement from God, the resurrection means the beginning of justification, a mystery which takes on startling implications when we realize it is the risen Christ, the symbol of peace, One who will die no more by whom the faithful are continually taught, governed and sanctified. Thus to demonstrate for “peace” at that time is as inappropriate as jeering at a funeral or disrobing in public.

Thus the six were unknowing, uneducated ignoramuses not to understand the high inappropriateness of the location of their demonstration. Nor do they appreciate that senseless demonstrations like theirs, when conducted in the scandalous way they performed, reinforce the contention in average citizens’ minds that war has some higher purpose than it has. None other than Richard Nixon whose cynicism has still been unplumbed understood that rioters, unkempt demonstrators work a contrary effect which is why he gloried in raising his two arms aloft and making the “V” for victory sign to goad them on. This does not mean one should avoid protesting war…but like anything else in life, the protest should be done with maximum regard for the need to win converts. Cardinal George, we need not emphasize, is not a symbol of war—he has spoken out against it and in his meetings with political leaders has undoubtedly expressed his opposition in meaningful and respectful terms. The fact that he met with the president is no cause to evoke a demonstration. Rather such meetings should be encouraged.

And Cardinal George as the most revered of all the nation’s Catholic hierarchy for his sympathies for peace and resolution of conflict the least deserving of barbarity such as the “Schoolgirls” displayed.

If the “schoolgirls” had any knowledge of history, they would realize that the last time protests of this type were waged against a war, in 1968, they sparked a counter-attack that led to the election of Richard Nixon and the growth of the George Wallace pro-war third party movement. Four years later with the memory of riots still vivid, George McGovern, a purported candidate of peace who called for Vietnam troops to be withdrawn, suffered the greatest electoral loss in the history of the country, carrying only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.

Were we cynical we would suspect the “Schoolgirls” were recruited by pro-war forces and duped by them so as to increase the public outrage against such despicable forays as had happened on Easter Sunday. The proper way to oppose the war is to become informed, participate in acceptable public forums and vote. Invading Mass with vials of ersatz blood is the scenario for postponing any favorable resolution of conflict. Why didn’t the “Schoolgirls” know this? Because they were, by their own admission, producing a polarization that can immeasurably lengthen the conflict caused by their hoping to cause attention and gain 15 seconds of celebrity.

Thus they have performed an incredibly tasteless and selfish act which is repeated will make the job of winning peace enormously difficult.

“Be Careful, Your Racism is Starting to Show?”

I rarely respond to Readers’ Comments because they are entitled to express their view here without contradiction from the conductor of this website—but I must make an exception for the March 21st comment from Elizabeth Alexander…(how I would like to meet her)…who wrote concerning my article on Minister Money in Chicago, the phenomenon of Barack Obama’s minister and Fr. Michael Pfleger: “Be careful, your racism is starting to show.”

Then she goes on to make what I think are condescending remarks about blacks in this country. She says, “You don’t understand their world. It isn’t your world and you need to accept that. If you knew more of how they have been shaped and why their thinking is not your thinking, then I think you would write differently. There is a wide gap that I think you are not interested in spanning. What you want is to see their world as you do. It’s not going to happen.—Elizabeth Alexander.”

Well, gosh. Let’s take the issue of whether or not they—all blacks, I guess—live in a different world. What does that mean? I don’t know, Elizabeth, if you know my background but my track record in working with and for African-Americans and other minorities is extensive: possibly going back before you were born. In 1961 as a legislative aide to a governor of Minnesota I lobbied to passage that state’s open occupancy law. Later that year I went with my governor to National Governors’ Conference where we passed the first human rights resolution ever adopted by that group, over the strict opposition of Governors . Ross Barnett of Mississippi and Orval Faubus of Arkansas, two arch segregationists who were joined by other lesser known southern governors. We carried the day in that engagement.

Later as assistant secretary of commerce for minority business enterprise I devised the program which welded 116 individual federal projects together to help fledgling minority entrepreneurs. In that connection I took the Small Business Act of 1953 which gave government contract preferences to “small business” and got the administration to add a minority component to that—for which I was honored by the Urban League for spawning a program that to-date has resulted in $400 billion worth of business and contracts to-date to the minority community. I also wrote a set-aside program that required the feds to set aside specially for minority enterprise—largely black enterprise—a certain percentage of federal contracts for minorities. Working with the private sector I took up the case of automobile dealerships of which only six were owned by minorities and met with the then Big 4—Ford, GM, Chrysler and American Motors—and secured 100 minority dealerships within the space of six months. That breakthrough was achieved by my going personally and insisting on meeting with all the CEOs in company with minority and significant black leadership. I was honored by the black-run National Business League for that.

You say I don’t understand “their world” (which I must say is a rather white patronizing thing to bring up on your part). In designing the minority enterprise program I met with (a) Whitney Young of the Urban League; (b) Roy Innis of CORE; (c) Andrew Young of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; (d) Rev. Jesse Jackson, then of Operation Breadbasket; (e) Ralph Abernathy of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; (f) Jackie Robinson who was then a top executive with Chock-Full-O-Nuts coffee; (g) Vernon Jordan of the United Negro College Fund; (h) Rev. Leon Sullivan, pioneer minority enterprise leader in Philadelphia; (i) Berkley Burrell, head of the National Business League, Washington, D.C.; (j) James Farmer, pioneer civil rights leader who antedated Martin Luther King, Jr.; A. Phillips Randolph of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters who was chairman of the 1963 March on Washington. I am leaving out John Johnson, president of Ebony, the first African-American to become a major business force in the nation…and a host of Hispanic leaders as well as native American leaders since we’re talking African Americans here.

Beyond that I worked with both sides of the aisles in both houses of Congress to get my program enacted and spoke before the House and Senate Democratic caucuses as well as Republican.

Following my departure from Commerce, involuntary since I antagonized the Nixon administration because I alienated…they said…the architects of the Southern Strategy i.e. John Ehrlichman and H. R. Haldemann, I went to the Peace Corps as director-public affairs and congressional relations there. There I managed the School Partnership program where U. S. corporations joined in partnership to improve the quality of schools in largely black areas in U. S. urban areas. After that I went back to my company, Quaker Oats, where as vice president I instituted a program of tutoring in disadvantaged areas, reorganization of philanthropy, free nutrition education for the poor without product commercialization. I managed negotiations with Jesse Jackson’s Operation PUSH and secured agreement for widespread improvement in hiring and promotion practices in behalf of African Americans. The program of plant location was placed under my direction which saw for the first time in any corporate activity, a private company declaring it would only locate new plants in communities that passed open housing ordinances (this being prior to passage of the federal civil rights act that guaranteed this across the nation).

In the corporate connection I secured approval for Quaker to finance and produce a documentary for use in the African American community showing the election of the first African American congressman from the deep south in more than a century—Andrew Young. Andrew Young and I became fast friends as result of that activity and when I was named a John F. Kennedy Fellow at Harvard, he came to lecture in his class as the UN ambassador. My class was enlarged to encompass the black students of Harvard and Radcliffe.

Last year I became one of the prime supporters of Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.’s incipient campaign for mayor of Chicago in preference to the mayoralty of Mayor Richard M. Daley. I supported Jackson until for many reasons he declined to run. I supported the candidacy of his wife, Sandy Jackson, a lawyer, as alderman in Chicago which resulted in the dethroning of an old-line machine candidate. After that I supported the candidacy of Sandy Jackson to be Democratic ward committeeman, a position of singular power in the Democratic party notwithstanding that I was and am a Republican. In connection with my ABC radio show here, I was the first to offer interview time for a young community organizer and lawyer who was seeking a state senate seat, Barack Obama by name who was running against a full field of better-financed opponents.

And lest you say that my contacts with African Americans has been with the more prominent, let it be said that one of my closest friends is one Frank Penn, a decorated veteran of Vietnam…an African American of superior intellect and verve as well as a legion of people going back 40 years including Hosea Williams, an aide to King who became a solid drinking buddy and associate when we were filming the Andrew Young documentary, a relationship that continued until his death.

Thanks for telling me that I don’t know “their world.”. In response let me say that the African Americans I agree with most heartily believe that they don’t have a world that they occupy in isolation but that they want…yea insist…that we all share the same world. Believe me, those people I know…from a host of people who have worked in community affairs with me up to Andrew Young, Jesse Jackson, Jr. and others don’t agree with you when you said to me “your racism may be showing.” They are about as offended as am I.

Thanks for writing, dear Elizabeth and thereby allowing me to set the record straight.

“Be careful, your racism is starting to show”? Your upper-class 1960s elitist white provincialism has betrayed you, my dear. “They’re not like us and we have to understand their demeanor and their special world…so different from our white world… so as to accommodate them. It’s, after all, noblesse oblige. The least we superior white people can do for them.”


  1. Elizabeth Alexander's occasional comments are as palatable as dose of quinine and vinegar.

    I cannot take her comments seriously because she does not respect majority rule. She is always right at an emotional level and the rest of the electorate is wrong.

    Candidates like McCain ought not to be elected because they terrify her. The elections of two term President George W. Bush ought to be invalidated because his daddy's friends helped him reach the White House. Applying the same standard, should JFK have been faulted for his father's manipulations that landed Jack the same office?

  2. Unfortunately there is no George Wallace to spark a large third party movement. I'm not just talking about war either. I'm also talking about things like illegal immigration, smaller government, and lower middle class taxes.

  3. What happened to the (Ron) Paulites? How about Ralph Nader?

    Who among these left in the arena cares about what you are talking about?

    Who left on the dancing floor is going to give your concerns any mind? Smaller government is the most hillery-arous.

  4. I did not know you would use my name. I am sorry you did.

    I have written to anyone whom I know, who might read your blog, to notice carefully the quote at the end. A casual reading might seem that it is mine. It is, of course, something I would never think or say.

    I regret writing to you.

  5. In the category of sad apologies, EA "regrets writing to" this blog, but apparently has no regrets over calling the blog owner a racist, despite Tom's rather convincing evidence to the contrary.

    How about it Elizabeth? Could you have possibly have hurled an insult in error?